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Monday, February 20, 2006

Between Rocks and Hard Places 


The Iranian newspaper that is exercising its freedom of speech by sponsoring a cartoon contest about the Holocaust may not want to send its reporters to Austria:


[David] Irving, 67, has been in custody since his November arrest on charges stemming from two speeches he gave in Austria in 1989 in which he was accused of denying the Nazis' extermination of 6 million Jews. He has contended that most of those who died at concentration camps such as Auschwitz succumbed to diseases such as typhus rather than execution.

The court convicted Irving after his guilty plea under the 1992 law, which applies to "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media."



His punishment? A three year prison sentence.

This troubles Neil Harding:


David Irving has pleaded guilty to holocaust denial and has been sent to jail for 3 years. Not only is this wrong from a freedom of speech point of view, it is counter productive. More idiots are now going to have sympathy for his Nazi racist views, and more people are going to read his books.


Meanwhile, it delights Piratical Bob:


British historian David Irving, a notorious Holocaust denier, has been sentenced to three years in an Austrian prison.

He's 67, so you aren't going to change that bigot's mind, but it's no more than he deserves. Too bad he can't serve his term in an Israeli prison, so he wouldn't have potentially sympathetic guards.



Obviously a lot of people are comparing European reaction to this case to European reaction to the Danish cartoon thingie, forgetting that Denmark and Austria are separate countries and consistency isn't necessarily expected between the two. Way out in New Zealand, Michael Ellis notes that Keith Locke (whoever he is) has shifting views on freedom of speech, depending upon the views being expressed:


Keith Locke on the publishing of the 'Mohammed Cartoons':

"The basic issue is the need to show respect for all religions in New Zealand, in both word and deed."

Keith Locke on allowing David Irving (who denies that the Nazi Holocaust of Jewish people occured) into New Zealand to express his views:

"David Irving’s holocaust denial views are repugnant to most New Zealanders but that is not sufficient reason to bar him from New Zealand. The banning of David Irving sets a bad precedent for free speech in this country."



In my terms, it sounds like Locke is using a system of one coulda and two shouldas.

Since we're spanning the globe, let's look at another juxtaposition - China, a country that takes great offense at crimes against the state, and Islam, a faith that takes great offense at crimes against the religion. What happens when these cultures clash?


[W]ith almost 21 million followers of Islam, China has roughly as many Muslims as Europe or even Iraq. But the openness of religion in this isolated region along the ancient Silk Road does not mean that China's Muslims are active participants in the protests and seminal debates roiling the larger Islamic world. In that world, they are almost invisible.

A case in point is the outrage and violence over the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that rippled through Islamic countries. Here in Linxia, which has more than 80 mosques, news of the cartoons spread quickly. The local religious affairs bureau also moved quickly. Local Muslims say officials visited imams and cautioned them against inciting followers....

Not that most Chinese Muslims need any warning. With 1.3 billion people, China is so huge and Muslims constitute such a tiny minority that most Muslims intuitively learn to keep quiet....

At the Mayanzhuang Islamic school in Linxia, Ma Huiyun, 40, the director of studies, said the cartoons infuriated him and other local Muslims.

"But we have to cooperate with the government," he said. "They asked us to be calm. They said they would speak on our behalf."...



But what if China becomes another Europe?


Many of the same societal problems that fueled protests by Islamic immigrants in Europe - discrimination, lower education levels, higher unemployment, a sense of cultural separation from the dominant majority - can be found in China, too.

China's Muslim population is stable, but among upwardly mobile Chinese, Islam is not as popular as Buddhism or Christianity. The pressure to assimilate, too, has watered down Islam in many places; in cities, some people who call themselves Muslims abstain from eating pork but rarely attend mosque....



But the issue is being discussed on a message board with a ".cn" country domain. In English.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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